The most popular means of consuming peanuts, especially in America, is through eating peanut butter, which usually contains close to 90-95% peanut and some added salt, sugar and stabilizers. There are many peanut lovers out there and while they find this food extremely tasty and satiating, they are concerned about the health affects, especially the fattening aspect of peanuts. So are peanuts really fattening?
In a nutshell, peanuts make for an extremely healthy food item and it’s inclusion in our daily diet helps provide several necessary minerals such as copper, selenium, zinc, magnesium and iron. Peanuts are by far the best source of plant protein, in their roasted or raw form.
But what about fat? Yes, peanuts do contain close to 22% of their overall calories in fats. But the good news is that majority of it is in the form of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat that are very healthy for the body.
Peanuts have been known to indirectly induce weight loss
If you are on a diet to reduce weight, you are more likely to obtain better results if you include a few helpings of peanuts, or peanut butter, in your daily intake. Here are a few reasons why peanuts make for a good inclusion in a weight loss diet.
- Peanuts quickly satiate hunger. It’s quite impossible to over-eat peanuts because of their tendency to give you a “filling” feeling as soon as you consume a few handfuls.
- The fats present in peanuts are “necessary” fats that aid in proper functioning of the body. Like all plant foods, peanuts don’t contain cholesterol and aid in the reduction of LDL or bad cholesterol. Unsaturated fats present in peanuts are completely harmless and are known to help prevent heart diseases.
- Studies have shown that people who snack on peanuts tend to eat less during the meal times. Apart from being a tasty snack it is also a food that tends to keep hunger at bay for long periods. Peanuts were largely eaten by the soldiers of civil war when they went on long drills.
- Peanuts contain a very small percentage of saturated fats. The presence of saturated fats is usually what causes issues of obesity and weight gain.
Mediterranean diet has found a lot of popularity in the weight loss circles because of its effectiveness at long term weight control. Surprisingly, close to 30% of the calories, in a Mediterranean diet, are obtained through fats. So what’s the secret?
A Mediterranean diet supplies fat through the consumption of foods like roasted peanuts, peanut butter, nuts, olive oil and peanut oil. All these sources are rich in monounsaturated fats that are non-fattening in nature. Moreover, these food items are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids that help in controlling cholesterol and LDL levels in the blood.
People also tend to stick easily with the moderate fat Mediterranean diet instead of the other bland and tasteless “low-fat” diets. The consumption of peanuts, and other tree nuts, forms a major part of Mediterranean diet.
If peanuts and peanut butter were fattening, people would not have achieved such marvelous results in weight loss while consuming a Mediterranean diet.
Peanuts are an excellent source of nutrition
It’s important to remember that peanuts are from the “legume” family and are not constitutionally similar to the other “nuts” like almonds, cashews or walnuts.
As with all legumes, peanuts are a rich source of plant proteins and fatty acids. The presence of significant amounts of phytosterols, in peanuts, helps provide immunity against heart disease and cancer.
It has been confirmed that peanut butter does not contain any “trans-fatty acids” and hence makes for a very healthy snack. Trans-fatty acids are present in foods like cookies, baked foods, crackers and fried foods, which cause several health problems including obesity.
Peanuts make for an excellent source of Vitamin E and folate, important for the healthy functioning of the circulatory system. The presence of Resveratrol in peanuts improves the overall heart health.
If you are looking to build muscles, through weight training, peanuts should be a necessary part of your dietary intake to get a rich supply of plant proteins.
In conclusion, if you are peanut lover, stay that way, there is nothing to worry about. Peanuts, and peanut butter, are not fattening and they provide for a very healthy snacking option.